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EDITIONS
Friday, 10 September, 1999, 07:52 GMT 08:52 UK
Executive plans to dump teachers' pay body
Playground
The executive wants to deliver a "world-class" education system
The Scottish government has drawn up plans to abolish the system for negotiating teachers' pay if the current offer is rejected.

In its place, the Scottish Executive should set up a committee of inquiry into the profession, according to a confidental cabinet memo obtained by BBC Scotland.

Pay talks are undertaken by the Scottish Joint Negotiating Committee (SJNC), whose existence is enshrined in law.

Scotland's biggest teaching union, the EIS, is balloting its members on a 200m pay package and the result is expected next week.

The offer, which would swap pay rises for changes in working conditions, has already been turned down by the union's salaries committee.

EIS General Secretary Ronnie Smith reacted swiftly to news of the cabinet memo.

EIS General Secretary Ronnie Smith
Ronnie Smith: "Not a basis on which to go forward"
He said: "Replacing the SJNC won't solve this because any imposed settlement will cause deep disaffection and demoralisation in the teaching profession and that is not a basis on which to go forward."

Scottish Education Minister Sam Galbraith is one of many who expects the deal to be rejected.

In a memo to the cabinet, he says the executive's response should be immediate.

"The SJNC is an anachronism which is obstructing progress towards modernisation of the profession," the document states.

"Whatever else, the SJNC should go. The failure of major negotiations to modernise the profession at both the start and the end of the 1990s demonstrates the SJNC's inability to bring about change.

Teacher in computer class
SJNC "has failed to deliver change"
"Without SJNC constraints, authorities would be able to introduce new terms and conditions for new teachers and at least a proportion of serving ones."

Mr Galbraith says the executive will have to make "absolutely clear" that the issues underlying in the case of teachers are "fundamental and unique to the delivery of a world-class education system".

"While there is no single approach which can guarantee delivery of our objectives, my view is that a comprehensive inquiry couple with removal of the legal basis of the SJNC offers the best opportunity for taking our education agenda forward," he writes.

However, abolition of the current pay machinery could run into constitutional problems.

'Controversial nature'

Legal opinion is that the Scottish Parliament does have the power to remove the SJNC.

The memo says: "Given, however, the controversial nature of the proposals and the risk of challenge, solicitors advise that it is safer to treat the matter as reserved (by Westminster).

"On this basis, we are seeking as a matter of urgency, DTI's views and their agreement to a suitable exception to the reservation.

"Given the wider implications of the legal view reached, we propose to seek an exception that would cover pay bargaining machinery across the public sector in Scotland."

Mr Galbraith acknowledges that industrial action by teachers is possible but the paper says: "They are not thought to have much taste for this."

The Scottish Executive has refused to comment on the basis that the document has been leaked.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Audio
BBC Scotland Education Correspondent Ken Macdonald has seen the document
Video
BBC Scotland Education Correspondent Ken Macdonald reports
See also:

20 Aug 99 | Scotland
07 Jul 99 | UK Education
06 Sep 99 | Scotland
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